Posts Tagged ‘Bill Connolly’

Growing up – I was (and still am) an avid sports enthusiast. I played both baseball and basketball for as long as my mediocre athleticism would allow me to. Even today, one of my favorite hobbies is to head over to an outdoor court on a nice summer night and play pick-up basketball with people I have never met before. It’s my primary form of relaxation. As a resident of Boston, MA – (The greatest sports city in the world) – I have also always been a rabid fan of all of my local teams. Through the highs and lows, I remain, although not always happy, loyal to my teams. This passion for sports is something that defines me.

Another thing that has always defined me is an intense competitive nature. In sports and in all other elements of my life, I am fiercely competitive. And it has been a blessing as well as a curse. On the one hand, it has caused me to seek success, to strive to be the best at everything that I do. On the other hand, however, it has made me an admitted sore loser. I was the kid who refused to shake hands after losing a little league game (In fact, I once got suspended in little league for throwing all of my equipment into the woods after a loss – yes, true story). I HATE losing, and I hate when my teams lose.

Image courtesy of the Boston Globe

Which finally brings me to my point. My mother always used to say to me, “It’s just a game, there’s no reason to get so upset about it.” And in reference to my outlandish reaction to losing, she was right. But I disagree with her on the former part of her statement. Because a professional sport isn’t JUST a game. Let me tell you why:

The impetus for this post comes from the Boston Bruins victory last week in the Stanley Cup Final – bringing home the championship to Boston for the first time in 39 long years. On Saturday, I had the pleasure of walking around the city during the Championship Parade, and what I saw was truly awesome. There were twenty somethings that filled the bars enjoying some much deserved (and non-violent) day-drinking with friends. There were young families introducing their children to the wonder of sports and teamwork. And there were older fans, who vividly remembered the Bruins’ last victory in ’72, and were filled with pure happiness to see them win it again in their lifetime. People from all walks of life became family for just one day, sharing hugs and high-fives with total strangers. I even met a homeless man, sitting outside a Dunkin Donuts – with a smile from ear to ear as he talked about how he was going to head over and try to see the parade (He was also the beneficiary of the good mood everyone was in when they passed by his cup).

Perhaps my view of the world of professional sports is tainted by the market I live in. The passion a big market has for its sports teams is very different than other markets. (New York, Boston, Philadelphia, LA, Chicago, Dallas, etc. being ‘Big Market’) However, until last week, one could make the argument that the Bruins did not have a ‘big market’ fan base in this city. So the principal is the same. For this city, during this celebration, the Boston Bruins tore down social barriers. There were no racial or age differences, no socio-economic stati, there was just pure elation. A sport is one of those rare entities that has the power to bring together entire communities, it’s an escape from reality, and it’s an opportunity to bond with those who matter (and those who don’t, too!) In short, a sport is not JUST a game, it’s much more. Congratulations to the 2010-2011 Boston Bruins, thanks for making the city of Boston come alive again!

3520 days. That’s how long it has been since two commercial airline jets controlled by evil terrorists turned a seemingly beautiful fall day into one of the darkest moments in our nation’s history. It is a day that forever will define my generation. I, like the rest of the world, will never forget where I was when news broke of the horror unfolding around the country. I was in a band rehearsal at Elm Street Junior High School. The principal came over the loudspeaker announcing that two planes had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York. I was too young to understand the magnitude of what was happening until our teachers turned on the television and we watched thousands of terrified people run for cover as the first tower collapsed. A friend of mine had a father that was an American Airlines pilot who happened to be flying that day – he was uncontrollable until he could find out that his dad was safe. For the rest of the day, school was essentially cancelled. How could we possibly work on anything else while this was happening?

As horrific as the tragedy was, born out of the massacre came the strongest feeling of community and patriotism that I have ever experienced in my young life. American flags were hung with pride outside of houses and support poured in from all 50 states for the city of New York and the brave men and women who were helping with the recovery effort. Candlelight vigils were held to pray in unison for the victims, and Americans stood tall illustrating the resolve and pride that comes with being a citizen of this great nation. I remember feeling a prickle down my spine when then-President Bush stood with a megaphone on a pile of rubble and told the American recovery team that “WE HEAR YOU,” indicating that the US would stop at nothing to bring justice to those responsible.

Over the course of the last 3519 days, life has certainly changed. We have been at war the entire time, and simple daily activities like boarding an airplane have become political hot button issues. However, for those who lost loved ones on 9/11/01, the extra 5 minutes in line at the airport is hardly an inconvenience worthy of discussion. For them, life will never be the same. We remember the numbers: 2,973 people, 343 firefighters, 23 NYPD, 37 Port Authority Police Officers all killed in cold blood. For the families of the victims, they remember the individuals. As President Obama said in his address last night: “The empty seat at the kitchen table.”

So what does the death of Osama Bin Laden mean to those people most closely connected to 9/11? I heard on a radio broadcast this morning perhaps the best description: A gentlemen (I can’t remember who it was) said, “This may not bring closure, and it may not bring happiness, but at least, in some way, it finally brings justice.” As we have repeatedly heard on the news, the death of Osama Bin Laden doesn’t mean the death of the terrorist network. We must remain on high alert because evil has not been conquered. With that in mind, however, this is a fantastic psychological win for our nation, our military and intelligence professionals, and a rare bit of good news worthy of celebration in a world where it is often fleeting.

The past 3520 days have been full of economic instability, military casualties, and the rebuilding of a nation. Here’s hoping that the next 3520 days are full of peace, happiness, and a renewed spirit for America!

Numbers taken from 911 count up dot com

Follow me on Twitter: @billconnolly

It seems counter-intuitive, right? To take advice from someone who is classifying themselves as a failure? However, someone who has never failed at an interview can only tell you what has worked… they can’t tell you what hasn’t. They don’t have insight into the common mistakes that people unknowingly make in an interview, subtle nuances that make all of the difference.  Which is why I am writing this post, because when I was looking for my first real position, I made all of the mistakes in the book, and learned a great deal in the process. I hope you will find value in the following (Mainly because it will make me feel better about how long it took me to secure the job I wanted.) But also, because I wish someone had been there when I had no answers, to say, “Hey man, don’t worry about it, I’ve been doing this wrong forever, so let me give you some advice.”

I need to start with a disclaimer that I am not a complete and utter interviewing failure. I have held 10 different positions in my young career, and am gainfully employed at the moment with an innovative marketing agency, while also working on a start-up company with one of my close friends (and mentor). However, my qualifications of a failure need not be understated either. Over the course of a 10 month period, I interviewed with over 50 different companies. In some cases, making it to the final round of an interview, but in every case, failing to bring home the prize. So I would comfortably say I’m an expert at failing. Here we go:

Picture taken from Google images.

1. Know the company – It sounds simple, but it’s something that I didn’t really understand for a long while. When I say, ‘know the company,’ I mean more than just the name, industry, and stock performance year on year. I mean REALLY know the company. For example, the personality of the employees (culture), something interesting the CEO said in a speech, or recent awards they may have won. Arm yourself with just one of those interesting items, and it will go a long way to help your cause.

2. Know the Industry – It’s not enough to simply know how the company works, but you have to have an understanding of the industry it competes in. Take a look at industry evaluations like the Forrester Wave or the Gartner Magic Quadrant. Or, if you don’t have access to those, look up news articles or blogs that talk about the major players in said industry, and where the industry is going in the future. An interviewer will always be impressed if you ask a question about how a new technology is impacting their field because you read an article about it in the Wall Street Journal.

3. Remember, Interviewers Are People Too – Here is where a lot of people falter, myself included at times. Especially in an interview, we tend to clam up, to get nervous, and to become paranoid about saying the wrong thing or not getting the questions right. It’s important to remember that the person interviewing you is also a human being, and therefore will care about more than if you can answer an arbitrary question with the textbook answer. Overall, they have to like you. So be personable, start with a light-hearted joke about the weather, or find a connection like a favorite sport or an alma mater. At the end of the day, it’s much more important that they remember you as the man/woman they had fun talking to than the one who got all of the questions correctly. (Obviously, you can’t bomb the questions either. My point is simply that people make decisions based on emotion, it’s just who we are. So make sure they like you!)

4. Don’t Be Overly Prepared – Yes, that’s right, I said Overly prepared. Clearly, being under-prepared is also an issue. However, being overly-prepared can also cause problems. For instance, having pages upon pages of notes in front of you will cause you to get flustered and overwhelmed at each question. If you want to have notes in front of you, make them quick bullets, and limit yourself to one page. That way, your bullet points will remind you of talking points, but won’t cause you to read ver batim with your head down (which we tend to do when we’re nervous). Relax, take a breath. It’s alright to say to the interviewer, “Let me think about that for a second. I want to give the best example.”

5. Be EXCITED! – This, to me, is by far the most important tip that I can give you. Be excited! About the job, the interview, the company, everything. I’m not saying you should knock the person over when you meet them, or completely praise the company as a perfect workplace, because that will come off as phony, and not genuine. However, in the feedback I received in some of my interviews, the reason I didn’t advance to a final round, or get the job was almost always, “Didn’t show that he wanted the position.” In my case, as I imagine some of you may be feeling, after hearing the word ‘No’ over and over again, it’s tough to ‘get up’ for each interview. You start to go through the motions. But like I said earlier, interviewers are people too, and they want to hire people that want to be hired. Wouldn’t you?

That’s all folks. After my many trials and tribulations, these are the 5 most important pieces of advice I have to give. Perhaps they won’t work for you, but hopefully they will. In the end, we all find our way. Just don’t get discouraged, keep your head up, and know that when things finally go right, it makes everything worth it.

Follow me on Twitter: @billconnolly

In the wake of yet another catastrophic natural disaster – this time in Japan – the world has come together to support the millions of impacted people who have lost their friends and families, homes, and livelihood. With the threat of a nuclear fallout continuing to burden the people of Japan (and those of us who rely on their economic health to maintain our own), the American Red Cross has stepped up its fundraising efforts in earnest. Celebrities have also come out to support the cause, such as Lady Gaga who donated $1.5 million to Japanese earthquake victims, or Sandra Bullock and Gwen Stefani (full story here) who each pledged $1 million of their personal fortunes. Hell, even Charlie Sheen is donating $1 from each ticket sold to his upcoming ‘Torpedo of Truth’ tour.

Some companies are using the Japanese crisis to position themselves as ‘good members of the global community.’ For example, AT&T (and later many other mobile service providers) recently made calls and texts from the US to Japan free until the end of March. Microsoft, not to be outdone, issued a twitter promotion where they would donate $1 for every retweet about their search engine, Bing, up to $100,000.

And here is where the controversy arises. As you can see by the image at the left, Microsoft’s, er, charitable spirit, was not well received by all. Although the company was actually helping the cause for Japan, people were outraged that the donation was contingent upon action on the part of the consumers to promote their product. Aforementioned AT&T was heralded for their program to help people reconnect with loved ones who are currently living in Japan. But what, really, is the difference between the two programs?

For the record, Microsoft quickly responded to the negative feedback by apologizing for the misunderstanding and donating the $100,000 without requiring further action from its @bing followers (In other news, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda also donated $1 Million toward Japan). Clearly, this was the right thing to do. But let’s not be fooled here, every business who is donating to this cause (or any other cause) is doing so, at least in some small part, for the publicity of the donation. That’s why companies release press statements announcing their intent to help, or leak details of their donation onto the web. And truthfully, that’s fine by me. Because if it makes the difference between a corporation donating $1 million or not donating at all, then let them have their publicity.

However, I also understand the outrage demonstrated by consumers here. The key difference between AT&T’s relief effort and Microsoft’s was that AT&T used the horrific tragedy as a publicity platform, where Microsoft used it as a marketing platform. During a time of immense need, companies who volunteer to help out, regardless of their intent, should be commended. Make your donation, take your kudos, and fade quietly into the distance. We, as consumers, are OK with a press release or a news report that a company is doing what it should be doing. But to design a marketing campaign around those victims crosses the line, and Microsoft quickly learned that crossing a line in today’s connected world means bad press can get out of hand, and FAST.

Many believe that the line separating PR and Marketing is blurring, and in many ways, it is. But one thing is clear: when it comes to helping people in desperate need, that line is as clear as ever.

What do you think? Is this a bad move by Microsoft, or just a good way to help the cause? Please comment below. And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @billconnolly!

What’s up readers? Thanks for checking out my new blog! I figured it was time that I start one of my own.. I have been blogging for my company, Quaero, for a while now, and help out with a start-up company in Millennial Branding, LLC that is totally built from the success of a blog. So I might as well have my own platform to add to the mix! Besides, if there’s one thing the world doesn’t have it’s a blog from an unknown young marketer trying to make a name for himself. (Yeah, there’s none of those.)

For those of you who know me, you may be asking why I’ve gone with the name ‘Will Connolly’ instead of referring to myself as I usually do, “Bill.” There’s a simple answer to that question: Bill Connolly was taken at wordpress.com.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m real excited that you’re reading this, because I assume only my friends will come here. As a bit of background, I’m a young guy, who loves marketing, psychology, playing basketball, and watching Will Smith movies. I also do stand up comedy from time to time, but I’m not nearly funny enough to make that the basis of this page.

So what is the point of this blog? Well, I haven’t quite figured that out yet, but I do want to ultimately create some structure so that it is useful to people and not only a place for me to ramble on endlessly.. With literally hundreds of thousands of blogs out there, there needs to be a reason to read mine.

That’s it for now friends. Hopefully you will come back again and again, but I know my challenge is to give you a good reason to do that.

– BC